Update – Xiaomi has since released a Q&A on Facebook (it’s in Chinese) that should hopefully clear up any questions. According to them, the original forum post was made in error and that the pings that were captured in the screenshot was merely a request for data from Xiaomi’s servers. This includes SMS messages, jokes, location-based ads, poems, holiday greetings, and so on. Xiaomi goes on to state that it would not make sense for them to break any laws that would hamper their international efforts.
Earlier this year, China-based smartphone company Xiaomi announced the Redmi Note. Just like the rest of Xiaomi’s handsets, the Redmi Note was an affordable and decently specced smartphone for its price. However according to recent reports, the handset might be doing more than what it has been advertised.
According to a post by Kenny Li of Hong Kong forum, IMA Mobile, it seems that he discovered that the Redmi Note was sending user data to Xiaomi’s servers in Beijing, China (pictured in the screenshot to the right). Apparently turning off the MiCloud service did not help, although it was pointed out that this only happened over WiFi.
According to Li, he tried to erase and reflash the handset with a different Android ROM but found that the issue persisted. This seemed to suggest that the functionality could have been built into the phone’s firmware itself. Now previous Xiaomi did mention that they will store customer data in China but only if the user opts in.
Based on this, it seems to do that regardless of user preference. It is unclear if this is a bug or if it is intentional. Previously other Chinese companies such as Huawei have been accused by the NSA for spying (which they have since denied). At the same time China has accused companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple of being spies themselves. In any case Xiaomi has yet to respond to the allegations, but we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled anyway.